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Freeze warning in effect: Parts of Tampa Bay expected to dip into the 20s

The coldest weather of this front is yet to come, says the National Weather Service.

Don’t put those sweaters away yet.

It was a chilly Christmas Day for Tampa Bay — but the worst of the cold is expected to come overnight Friday into Saturday morning, according to Tony Hurt of the National Weather Service.

That’s when temperatures are expected to drop into the upper 20s in Hernando County, Hurt said, while Pasco County is expected to dip just below 32. A freeze warning was put into place for both counties from midnight until 9 a.m.

Residents in both counties were encouraged to cover up vulnerable plants Friday night, Hurt said, as temperatures could remain below freezing for up to six hours in some spots.

“Even those few hours are enough to cause damage,” Hurt warned.

Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are expected to have temperatures in the mid-30s on Saturday, with the coldest weather coming around 6 a.m.

Related: Strong Christmas Eve weather tears through Largo mobile home community

There is no chance of rain for Tampa Bay on Saturday, according to the weather service. The high for Tampa will be 54.

Saturday is expected to be the chilliest day of this cold front, Hurt said, which also delivered Tampa Bay its coldest Christmas Day of the 2000s.

The coldest Christmas in Tampa Bay history was Dec. 25, 1983. The high was a brisk 38 and the mercury in thermometers dropped to a low of 20 degrees at Tampa International Airport.

Tampa’s lowest temperature this Christmas — as of 7 p.m. — was a chilly 42. The record for this century had been 2010′s low of 45. Hurt said it was the region’s fifth-coldest Christmas since the metric began being recorded in 1890.

This cold front will be short-lived, however. The region will begin to slowly warm up Sunday and Monday, when high temperatures will return to 70 degrees. No significant rainfall is expected next week until New Year’s Eve on Thursday, when there is a 70 percent chance of rain.

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